The Problem with Plenaries

Blog of the Week


If group work was the holy grail of my teacher training, effective plenaries were definitely the pedagogical white rabbit – the element of the lesson you always felt was achievable, but nevertheless remained elusive. Running out of time for a plenary during an official observation was almost to be expected, but cramming it in for two minutes was better than nothing.

Although there’s bound to be some variation, I think most teachers have a pretty similar idea of what a plenary is, or what it is suppose to be, even if they are sceptical about it’s efficacy. Here’s my definition of this ‘typical’ idea:

Plenaries are the stage in the lesson after the main task, where students complete an activity which promotes meta-cognition, getting them to articulate or reflect on what they have learnt. This is an AFL strategy that helps cement learning.

I’d like to discuss four potential problems with thinking about plenaries in…

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